10 Translation Industry Predictions for 2011

How technology and economic changes will impact the translation & localization industry

Translation Industry Predictions

Often you hear around this time of the year from industry experts about what they see in their crystal ball for the following year. I decided this year to do it a bit differently and present you with 10 predictions on what will not happen. Here they are…

Machine Translation

The clamor by some industry experts and machine translation companies will continue, but the machine will not replace the translator. Demand for professional translators with subject matter experience will continue to grow as globalization trends continue across all specialized fields.


Despite the hoopla and the wish of some to get their translations for free, the crowdsourcing model will continue to work only in very limited applications and will not be free. Tremendous investments in infrastructure (crowd) and technology (sourcing) are needed for the crowdsourcing model to work that most companies will find either inapplicable or unreasonably expensive.

Translation Memory

Although some do or will soon offer free or open source TM software to gain market share, Translation Memory tools that work will not be free! There is a lot that goes in making a translation memory engine work that require development and support. The value that translators and translation firms get in translation memory tools well justifies the investment. Yes, TM technology is 10-20 years old, but it has advanced significantly over the years. Unlike other translation technologies, its benefits are very tangible and measurable!

Sharing TMs

Regardless of what certain industry associations are saying, intellectual property rights will continue to be important to safeguard. Most companies will continue to not want to have their hard earned documentation and translation assets delivered on a silver platter to all their competitors.

Translation Management Systems

TMS will continue to grow in 2011, but they will not surpass TM tools in value and wide use. 60-70% of any localization project is translation related; only 10-15% is project management related. The best TMS can do is reduce a part of the 10-15% cost. So far, only TM tools (not MT) help reduce the lion’s share of projects’ costs! Furthermore, most companies will continue to expect to pay for TS (Translation Services) and not for TMS (Translation Management Systems).

Single Sourcing

The transition to XML-based authoring will gradually continue. Tools will evolve to allow ease of use in handling XML formats. Native Framemaker, InDesign and QuarkXPress formats however will not go away!


Pressure to reduce translation rates will continue, although not at the pace seen in 2009 and 2010. Professional translators and translation firms on solid financial footing will continue to command equitable rates for excellence in service and quality that many industries will not abandon.

Questionable industry practices

Practices like hiding charges behind fuzzy match, 100% repeat and a loss-leader will unfortunately continue in the industry. Many desperate language service providers will not cease resorting to questionable practices to lure new clients with seemingly low prices. Always insist on full transparency in price, specifications and included services with all the quotes that you receive. Also, inquire about project updates costs or future project costs before committing to using a vendor!

Recipe for success

Companies will continue to seek excellence in service no matter where they go and what technology is touted. Success is reached only when the right technology, process and people are brought together. Common sense will not cease in 2011!


Industry pundits (us included) will not stop predicting what will happen in following years with hopes perhaps to influence the outcome! Check out our predictions for 2010.

A hearty thank you, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all our readers!

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